Blackout background in a portrait No Flash


TPF Noob!
Aug 6, 2013
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Hi guys n gals, i have an idea how to take a portrait and blackout the background in camera rather than in post processing or by using an actual backdrop. I have a basic understanding of inverse square law and how this is used to achieve the effect using flash. However in the attached photo (Jerry Ghionis) can anybody shed any light (excuse the pun) on how to achieve this result as he did with no flash only the ambient sunlight available?
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I'll give it a shot for a first post. The idea is to not have enough light to expose at all, so when light is added you get enough to expose what is lit. In this case it looks like a skylight with a good amount of sunlight coming through lit the model's face enough for a proper exposure at the settings Mr. Ghionis was using. I would stop down to a pretty high aperature and use a pretty quick shutter speed to see what would happen.
Sounds like a promising and sensible answer for a noob lol ..... Cheers
Meter for their face and not the background. You can see in the photo that the subject is standing in an open door way with a dark room behind him. If you are shooting at 85mm the back ground will be a small dark area.
Like so... This guy was standing in the doorway of a dark ware house. I did do some slight burning as there was a window behind him. But it was pretty straight forward.

guy1aa by runnah555, on Flickr
Ambient light exposure is controlled by shutter speed. So, to kill the ambient light you shoot at a fast enough shutter speed to eliminate the exposure from all ambient light. Aperture has some effect as well, but shutter speed is key for ambient exposure.

Flash exposure is not affected by shutter speed, generally.

Stand far away from the backdrop / background to keep flash from falling on it and exposing it.
Quick rule of thumb, 4&1/2 stops down from a correct exposure will give you black. Meter the face, if the background is 4&1/2 stops down, it'll go black. Pretty straight forward.
Looks like he's positioned the subject in a doorway. Seems to me that it's as simple as putting a black background on the wall across the room through the doorway behind the model, and don't light it.
Thanks for all the replies folks, learned a lot already! Apologies to admins for breaching your copyright rules by posting the pic, it was a screenshot from a freely available video by Jerry Ghionis and i referenced it to him so thought it would be fine. My mistake, wont happen again.

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